Boccia is a Paralympic sport that is growing in popularity all over the UK.
People of all ages and abilities play together and it is a very serious, controlled, strategic game but at the same time sessions are fun and have a huge social element as well.
Boccia can be played by people with any disability.
Boccia (pronounced ‘botcha’) is an international Paralympic sport similar to bowls, boules and petanque. Hugely enjoyable and easy to learn, the idea of the game of skill and strategy is to throw your balls closest to the ‘jack’, the white ball, to win.
Boccia is ideal for athletes in either power or manual wheelchairs as the main rule of the game is that players must remain seated throughout; ambulant players throw from a chair. There are 13 balls played in each end of a game; one white ball, six red balls and six blue balls. Opposing teams take one of the two sets of coloured balls. The balls are soft and pliable, allowing players to grasp and maintain a good grip on the ball before each throw.
Each player sits in a 1m x 2.5m ‘box’ and this is where they throw the ball from. A Boccia court is marked out on the sports hall floor (often using the length and breadth of a badminton court as a marker) and each team takes it in turns to start a game by throwing the white ball. Then, the player who threw the jack goes first with their coloured ball and then the other team throw their ball. Play then continues with the team whose ball is furthest away from the jack throwing next. Each end finishes when all 13 balls have been played. A referee then measures which balls as closest – the red or the blue – and awards points accordingly.
Boccia can be played in several ways. Each side has 6 balls and each game is made up of several ends. A ‘side’ can be 1 person; 2 people; 3 people or 6 people – it depends on how many people are competing. If 1 person is playing against another person then each competitor uses all 6 balls. If 2 people are playing against another pair then each player uses 3 balls each per end, and so on.
Boccia is a very inclusive and sociable game and can be played in a competitive situation or for fun with people of all ages. Boccia was designed originally as a sport for players with cerebral palsy. However, the sport has really taken off and people of all ages and abilities are playing this addictive game all around the world.